Media and Press

The following media quotes have been gathered from a variety of sources over the years.

Thayer Cheatham Willis, author of Navigating the Dark Side of Wealth: A Life Guide for Inheritors, not only works with wealthy families as her occupation, but she was raised in the family that formed the Georgia Pacific Corporation. She knows first hand the challenges of growing up with wealth and addresses them daily in her occupation as a licensed counselor, with her own children and in her own life.

Statistics on the generational transfer of wealth:

In a January 6th press release from we learned that "Despite the economic downturn and the fall of the equity markets, the nationally noted projection that a wealth transfer of at least $41 trillion will take place in the United States by the year 2052 remains valid." $25 trillion of this will be passed down in the form of inheritances to baby boomers and their children and grandchildren. The press release and report also notes that the public perception of shrinking wealth is greatly affected by the news stories we read about the significant losses by very wealthy, very public figures. However, they contend that individual, personal wealth has remained fairly static despite the market downturns.

For those who inherit their wealth, life’s material pleasures are there for the taking, but happiness may have to be earned the hard way.

Having spent years resolving her own conflicts with money, she now works as a therapist to the super-rich, helping them overcome isolation, guilt and a lack of self-esteem, among other obstacles.

"Whether they have too little or too much, money creates conflicts for most Americans", she says. "It is the rare person who uses money simply as a means of exchange." "There is a tremendous emphasis on material wealth in this country," Ms. Willis said. "When you travel a bit, you see that money obsession is fairly unique to Western civilization."

Ms. Willis, 46, says she would not have been able to build a good marriage, find work she likes or start a family without sorting out her feelings about money. "Coming to peace with the role of money in your life is one of the most important things most people have to do", she said.

You see them next to you at the stoplight, driving a brand new Mercedes and yakking on the car phone. Or at Portland's spendiest stores, dropping money on yet another new outfit. Or power-lunching at the Arlington Club. They have money and they have it made, right?

"Wrong," says Thayer Willis, a Portland therapist who specializes in dealing with issues of wealth. Deep down, Portland's wealthy have the same problems you have.

Well, OK, so they're not worrying about making the mortgage this month, subsidizing the kids' college funds or overhauling that 12-year-old Volvo. But Willis is out to torpedo the popular American notion that wealth equals happiness.

"There's an attitude in this society that if you have money, you can't possibly have problems. That's just not so. That's exactly the sort of attitude that keeps so many wealthy people emotionally isolated," she says. "All my clients want a better quality of life - values, relationships, meaningful work - and they think it has to do with things other than money."

The wealthy, she says, are often so cushioned by money that they they don't develop skills for getting help. When troubles surface, they feel isolated, friendless and insecure. They're not sure if people love them for themselves or for their balance sheet.

They may lack a sense of purpose; they may feel guilty about having so much more than others. And the idea that they should be happy makes them feel even more isolated as they struggle with personal issues.

Willis' mission is to help the wealthy work through those issues.

In a culture where wealth equals power, Willis said, "There is a powerful belief that the more money you have the fewer problems you have."

It solves some kinds of problems, but isn't the answer to everything in life - not by a long shot.

And, in fact, as often as it is a solution, Willis believes, money contributes to serious emotional problems and troubled relationships. It makes people feel guilty - sometimes over spending their money, sometimes over not spending it; it fills them with fear that others love them for their money, not for themselves; and it chips away at their confidence and competence, leaving them wondering whether, if it weren't for their money, they would be worth anything at all.

In short, having a lot of money makes many people feel different. "Nobody," she said, "likes to feel different."